Sacramento Kings: What Could’ve Been Had They Advanced to the NBA Finals in 2002


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The 2002 Sacramento Kings were arguably one of the best assembled roster in franchise history. Their starting five — Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac  — were extremely talented and unselfish players that had amazing on-the-court chemistry. There was also a set of gifted players like Bobby Jackson contributing off the bench. This squad finished the season with the league-best record of 61-21 and was on their way to the top.

However, for whatever reasons (one being the horrendous officiating in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers), the Kings didn’t get a chance to play in the NBA Finals. This event would be the cusp of the Kings success. To this day, the franchise has never been able to come close to those achievements.

But what if? What if the Kings had made it to the 2002 NBA Finals? And if they won, how would the years following have changed?

It is hard to completely predict what could have happened, but it would be a safe bet to say that the Kings would have been ready to defend their title. The Kings were still a great team the following season with all their weapons intact. They finished the regular season with the third best record in the league (59-23) and were well on their way for another championship run.

However, it’s not a safe to say that winning a championship title would have prevented what happened in the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks. In the second game of the series, Webber went down with a season-ending injury and the Kings eventually lost to the Mavericks in seven games.

With Webber not being as athletic as he once was and Divac becoming just old and ineffective, the Kings never got to see the spotlight again. With the lack of success in the following years, the 2002 Kings roster eventually spilt, ending “the greatest show on the court.”

The Kings not advancing to the 2002 NBA Finals completely changed the atmosphere within the franchise and we will never know what would have happened if they were champions. This goes to show that sometimes, you really only have one shot to be the best.

Unfortunately for the Kings, their shot was taken from them in the form of the opposition’s free throws.